Youth Sail Training

Welcome to sailing at the Squadron

Dear RNSYS Sailors and Parents,

Welcome to another season of sailing at the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron! We are very excited that you will be joining our Sail Training program and we have been working hard to ensure that you will have an exceptional experience. Please review our 2018 Youth Sail Training Parental Guide in hopes that it will answer any potential questions you may have.

Mission Statement

The RNSYS Sail Training Program strives to provide safe, challenging and educational sailing instruction while promoting seamanship, sportsmanship, and a lifelong interest in sailing to young people in our community. Awarded Sail Training Program of the Year in 2014 by Sail Canada, we offer a leading program with up-to-date equipment, ranging from elementary sailing to competitive racing at the local, national and international levels.

 Meet the Coaching Team

Adelaide von Kursell - Head Instructor | [email protected] | Ext 118| (902) 830-6806


Hello Sailors! My name is Adelaide and I am the Head Instructor this year at the RNSYS. The Squadron has been my summer home for many years. I started sailing through the Learn to Sail program when I was six years old. After my first summer of sailing Opti’s, I immediately fell in love with the sport. I later raced Opti’s for the RNSYS, and after growing out of Opti’s I raced in 420’s and 29ers. I then decided to become an instructor, so that I can help mentor in sailing. This will be my fifth year instructing at the RNSYS and second year as Head Instructor. I am very excited to be Head Instructor again and have the opportunity to spend time with all sailors in our program. This summer, I’m looking forward to guiding sailors through the sport of sailing. And hope to help them set goals, find adventure, and have fun while sailing.

Avery Gillham - Wet Feet Coach

avery 2018

My name is Avery. I’m really excited to be coaching this year here at the Squadron. I grew up sailing at the Waegwoltic Club where I took basic sailing as well as spent time on both the Opti and 420 race teams.  I also spent many summers growing up sailing on my family keelboat around the South Shore. This is my first summer coaching, and I will be coaching wetfeet. I am really looking forward to a super fun summer!

 Oliva Mason- Opti 1 Coach


My name is Olivia Mason and I will be one of the Opti 1 sail instructors this summer at RNSYS. I started in the learn to sail program at BBYC when I was 8 years old. I began with Opti's then as I grew I briefly sailed in 420's. When I was 13 years old I made the switch to RNSYS and began sailing Lasers. I have always loved being around the water. Sailing is not only an amazing sport, but it also brings along with it an amazing group of people. I decided to be a sail instructor to help sailors learn, but also show them how much fun sailing can be. This will be my second year instructing sailing and I am very glad to be a part of the team at RNSYS. This summer my goal is to help the sailors learn and better their sailing skills as well as having a fun time!

Matt Aftanas - Opti 1 Coach


My name is Matthew Aftanas and I am an avid sailor at the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron. This summer I will be instructing Opti 1. Throughout the summer I will be promoting the same values I was taught when I was learning to sail such as teamwork and independence. The skills I have learned since I began sailing at age eight have benefited me throughout my life. As a Citadel High School student and varsity athlete, I draw on the experience I have gained from the youth sailing program at RNSYS. My goal for the summer is to ensure the learn to sail Opti sailors gain valuable sailing experience in a fun and collaborative environment.

Curtis Giacomantonio - Opti 2 Coach

curtis 2018

Hi sailors! My name is Curtis Giacomantonio, I will be the Opti 2 instructor this summer at the squadron. I have been sailing for almost twelve years now. I started sailing when I was six at the Waegwoltic club where I raced Opti's and 420's. I have been in love with the sport ever since, for many reasons. One of the biggest reasons I love sailing so much is because of the awesome coaches I had as a kid. This is why I decided to become a coach myself. This summer I want to make children love sailing as much as I do by making a safe environment where they can have fun and learn the fundamentals of sailing.

Elizabeth Waye- Opti 2 Coach


Hi, my names Elizabeth and I'll be coaching Opti 2 this summer!! I grew up sailing and racing out of the Waeg. I also spent a few weeks sailing out of Lunenburg most summers! So excited for summer sailing to begin!

Sebastian von Kursell - Opti 3 Coach


My name is Sebastian von Kursell and I will be coaching intro Opti three this season. I've been lucky enough to say the squadron has been my home club since I was five. I first started racing in Optis at the age of 11 and loved it! Since then I've raced in 420's. After I grew out of 420's I started racing in lasers. I have many years of racing experience in many different boats. Sailing is my passion and I think everyone should have an opportunity to try it. I am very thankful to have had such an amazing opportunity to instruct at such an incredible club. This summer, I'm looking forward to continuing to guide athletes through the sport of sailing and hope to help them set goals, find adventure, and have fun while sailing. Really looking forward to seeing everyone back this summer and meeting many more new sailors. We're going to have a great summer!

Aiden Harris - Opti 3 Coach


My name is Aidan Harris, and I am coaching Opti 3 for the summer season! I grew up in Halifax and I began sailing Optimist when I was 9. After a few years of Optimist, I progressed through COAST and then moved to Laser Radial where I participated on the RNSYS race team and the Nova Scotia Sailing Team. I love the sport and I’m looking forward to getting started at the Squadron and getting to know everyone!

Alexander Sapp - Opti Learn to Race Coach


This is Alexander's fourth year coaching RNSYS's Opti learn to race program. He competed in the Opti, laser radial, and 420 classes internationally before coaching. He continued to compete in 420s during his undergraduate degree and was captain of the U of T keelboat team. He races a farr30 out of RNSYS during the summer. He is passionate about sharing the experience of competitive sailing with young athletes.

Ben Grantmyre- 420 Coach


Hey sailors! My name is Ben Grantmyre and I am the 420 coach for this summer. This is my third year coaching at RNSYS and I'm super excited to be able to get back out coaching. I started sailing in the learn to sail program in Optis 13 years ago. After learning the ropes, I spent most of my time learning how to race in 420. Currently, I spend my time racing keelboats. This summer I hope to help sailors set goals and improve while also having fun, and I hope they're as excited as me for the program to begin!

Lauren Sullivan - Intermediate Single-Handed Laser Coach


My name is Lauren Sullivan and I will be the Intermediate Single-Handed Laser coach this summer at the RNSYS. I have been sailing at the RNSYS since I was 6 and have loved it since the day I started. I started out in Opti and developed to race internationally. I then moved into the Laser Radial class and continued to race with the RNSYS race team. I competed internationally and at last summer’s Canada Games representing Nova Scotia. I now continue to race for the Queen’s Sailing Team and still love sailing and being around water. I hope every kid at the RNSYS enjoys the sport as much as I have. This is my second-year coaching at the RNSYS and I can’t wait to get out on the water!

Lunch Program

Lunch program is offered Monday through Friday for program participants. Please note that this covers food during the lunch hour only. Recommended to still pack water and snacks as this only covers a main lunch course.

Tender Service

Participants may take a tender from either the foot of Oakland or Jubilee Roads for the duration of the Program to assist those living across the Arm.  Pick up and drop off times for Jubilee and Oakland tender service will be as follows: 

Jubilee- Pick up: 8:30 - Drop off: 4:15
Oakland- Pick up: 8:45 - Drop off: 4:05

Sail Training Pathway

Sail Canada and Sail Nova Scotia has implemented a new sail training level system entitled CANSail Dinghy ( The CYA describes CANSail as such: 

“CANSail is designed to be a set of progressive learn to sail standards focused on providing sailors with a solid foundation of core skills. It allows sailors to learn and progress in any type of boat and consolidates key skills and solid experiences before adding complex skills.”

CANSail levels run 1 through 6, and can be completed in both singlehanded (Optimist, Laser) and doublehanded (420) sailboats. Level specific checklists will be distributed on an individual basis depending on your sailor’s specific course. Please refer to Appendix A – New CANSail Pathway for a chart which corresponds our new CANSail levels with previously used White / Bronze Sail levels.


Safety is paramount to the RNSYS Sail Training program. Our professional coaching staff are all certified for the following: First Aid / CPR, Pleasure Craft Operators Certificate, Coach Boat Safety and Radio Operators Certificate. Coaches carry a Participant Information Form and Emergency Action Plan (EAP) at all times on the water. Each coach boat is equipped with all Transport Canada required safety equipment and an updated first aid kit and a VHF radio. Coaches are trained and equipped to activate our EAP whenever necessary. While at the Swimming Pool, sailors are supervised by our certified lifeguard staff.

The following is a list of safety guidelines that sailors must adhere to when participating in our Sail Training programs:

  • Every day sailors must check-in with coach upon arrival and check-out prior to departure.  Between 0900 and 1600, sailors may not leave supervision of their coach without approval from their parent / guardian.
  • Sailors must always wear appropriately sized, Transport Canada approved lifejacket or PFD when on or near water(includes docks, ramps, tenders, etc.).
  • Sailors may not leave the dock and / or launch ramp before their instructor is on the water.
  • Sailors must remain within eyesight of their coach at all times when on the water.
  • Sailors must notify the Coordinator of Sail Training in advance of any potentially harmful medical condition(s). If applicable, please provide Coordinator of Sail Training with appropriate allergy / emergency medication.
  • Sailors are asked to notify their coach immediately if they become injured or feel unsafe.
Required Gear

During Sail Training, sailors are exposed to salt water, sun wind and rain. To keep sailors safe, comfortable and having fun, we require that each sailor bring the following every day to the program:

  • Canadian Coast Guard approved lifejacket or PFD, with whistle attached
  • Sun hat or baseball cap (snug fit recommended due to wind)
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Water bottle
  • Lunch and snacks (if not on Lunch Program, or if specific by coach)
  • Swimsuit and towel
  • Footwear: sneakers, Crocs, beach shoes or sailing-specific “dinghy boots”. For
  • Good-weather clothing: use a “layering” strategy because the temperature can be very different on land versus on the water, and may change during the day. Quick- dry fabrics and a wind-proof outer layer on the upper body is recommended. Clothes will get wet and salt-stained most days, and the seats of pants and shorts have a good chance of getting torn or ripped. Always pack a spare set of clothes.
  • Foul-weather clothing: a standard rain jacket and rain pants. Sailing-specific items (such as a “spray top”) are usually well designed and are often worth the investment. Wetsuits are recommended, but not required.
  • Allergy medication and instructions for use (if required).
  • safety reasons, all footwear must be closed-toe. Footwear can be expected to get soaked every day; unless specifically designed for sailing or the beach, footwear worn in the program will be very well-used by the end of the session.
  • We strongly recommend that each item is clearly and prominently labelled with your family name since items will inevitably get misplaced during the course of the day.
  • The decision to send a sailor out sailing each day will be a decision made by each sailor's coach. If the sailor does not have proper clothing or equipment, the coach may decide that he or she should not go out on the water.

Directions to the RNSYS

From Armdale Rotary:

  1. Take Herring Cove Road out of Rotary
  2. Turn left onto Purcells Cove Road
  3. RNSYS is located at 376 Purcells Cove Road
  4. Once through gate, turn right and drive across bridge through parking lot
  5. Follow road through boatyard parking lot until you reach large blue Marine Activity Center (MAC) at the southeastern extent of the property
The RNSYS Gate will be open Monday to Friday from 0830-0930hrs and1530-1630hrs. If you wish to gain access to the property at any other time, please dial 0001 on the keypad.

Sail Training Facility

(refer to Appendix B – Site Map)

Marine Activity Center (MAC) - see Junior Sailing on Site Map.

Our large two-story, blue building located at southeastern extent of the property.

Officially opened in 2011, the wheelchair accessible MAC building is the home base for our Sail Training program. The ground floor includes classroom space, change rooms, equipment storage, gear storage and a tool room. The upper floor has offices, an instructor area and meeting space.

Dinghy Park

Northeast of the MAC building is our Dinghy Park - a paved area shared between club-owned and member-owned dinghies. Sail Training uses the docks adjacent to this area for supplementary dinghy storage. The docks opposite to our launch ramp are where our coach boats are stored.

Spar Loft Washrooms

While in the area surrounding the MAC building, sailors will use the Spar Loft washrooms. The Spar Loft is located across the parking lot from the MAC and the washrooms are accessible using the entrance on the southeast aspect of the building.

Swimming Pool and Grassy Knoll (Children’s Playground)

The Swimming Pool and Grassy Knoll are located beside the RNSYS Main Clubhouse. Depending on the weather, this is generally where sailors will spend their lunch hour. The Swimming Pool is equipped with washroom facilities. The Grassy Knoll is commonly a venue for fitness and activity classes.

Daily Routine

Please note that sailing is a sport entirely dependent upon weather. The following schedule is intended for ideal weather conditions. In the event of poor weather conditions, our instructors are prepared with enjoyable, educational and interactive contingency plans. Activities vary from level to level, but may include: sailing crafts and sailing related games, seamanship and knot typing, racing rule, tactics and sailing theory lessons, and fitness classes.

0830 – Tender pick up at Jubilee Wharf*

0845 – Tender pick up at Oakland Wharf*

0900 – Check In and Wake Up Activity [Swim Lessons for Weetfeet and Opti 1 sailors]

0915 – Day’s Objective, Rigging and Briefing

1000 – Sailing

1145 – Partial De-rig and Debrief

1200 – Lunch

1300 – Rigging and Briefing

1330 – Sailing

1515 – De-rig and Debrief

1600 – Check Out

1605 – Tender drop off at Oakland Wharf*

1615 – Tender drop off at Jubilee Wharf*

*Optional Tender pick-up/drop-off from Jubilee Wharf and Oakland Wharf. Please notify Coordinator of Sail Training if you are unable to make the scheduled pick up and / or drop off time. During tender drop off, our coaches will not leave a sailor alone without their parent / guardian unless the Coordinator of Sail Training has been notified.

 Important Dates

Special Events and Theme Days can be found in our 2018 Youth Sail Training Parental Guide

The Sail Training program strives to provide a fun and dynamic atmosphere for our sailors by participating in special events and theme days throughout our programming schedule. Below is a list of special events and theme days that we are planning this summer. Notice will be given in advance to allow for any necessary preparations.

Furthermore, please feel free to email contact the Coordinator of Sail Training if you have an idea for a special event or theme day for our sailors.

  • Dingle Battle – challenge the Waegwoltic and Armdale sailors to an on-land game of Capture the Flag (may include an ice cream break).
  • Mini-Marblehead / Mini Route St. Pierre – the friendly rivalry continues when Squadron sailors challenge the Waegwoltic and Armdale sailors to an on-water race up the Northwest Arm followed by a barbecue at the Saraguay Club.
  • Harbour Cruises – sail and / or boat rides to view the beautiful Halifax waterfront (may include an ice cream break).
  • McNabs Island Picnics – pack a lunch and set sail to McNabs for a great day on the beach. Lunch program will be delivered.
  • Squadron Summer Olympics – a smaller scale version of the big show. There will be opening and closing ceremonies and many friendly competitions in between.
  • Build a Boat Competition – sailors are divided into groups and must construct their own seaworthy vessel sturdy enough for one group member to manoeuvre across the RNSYS harbour.
  • Regatta Day – Sailors and coaches will get placed in teams and compete in our Squadron Regatta Day. Prizes will be awarded to all participants.
  • Pirate Day – put on your makeup, eye patch and pirate clothes and act like the meanest pirate around. Plastic weapons only.
  • Cartoon Character Day – come dressed like your favourite cartoon character.
  • Rock Star Day – come dressed like your favourite rock star. Bonus points if you can sing and dance too.
  • World Food Day – everyone bring their favourite dish for a big Sail Training potluck. Please include ingredients for allergy purposes.
  • Cookie Day – bring in your favourite baked goods and share. Please include ingredients for allergy purposes.


Optimist, 420 and Laser sailors in the Advanced / Learn to Race programs (CANSail 3&4) will be encouraged to participate in local regattas and training camps. This great opportunity allows sailors to interact with youth from other clubs, learn from many of the provinces great sailors and coaches and challenge themselves in a friendly, racing environment. 

End of the season Banquet  August 24, 2018

can sail

 Please note: Junior Sailing is the Marine Activity Center


Sponsors of the Marblehead to Halifax Ocean Race 2019:

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